A senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations Office in Geneva resigned from his post on Monday, saying he was “ashamed” of his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday to the Russian diplomatic mission castigating the “war of aggression unleashed” by President Vladimir Putin.
“During twenty years of my diplomatic career, I have seen different turning points in our foreign policy, but I have never been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” he wrote, referring on the date of the start of the invasion.
Bondarev, who recently worked on Russia’s role at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, told The Associated Press that he was concerned about Moscow’s response to his letter and did not plan to leave Switzerland. his letter and statement target the Russian oligarchs who got rich under Putin’s regime.
“Those who engineered this war want only one thing: to stay in power forever, to live in pompous and tasteless palaces, to sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, to enjoy unlimited power and total impunity,” Bondarev wrote. “To achieve this, they are ready to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer called on other Russian diplomats around the world to follow Bondarev’s “moral example” and step down.
“Boris Bondarev is a hero,” Neuer said.
► Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon remains committed to avoiding an escalation of war with Russia. A call last week with his Russian counterpart was “determined and helpful,” Milley said.
►Russia forcibly deported more than 1.4 million Ukrainian citizens, including 240,000 children, to the Russian Federation, said Liudmyla Denisova, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament.
►Russian forces intensify their bombardment of the Donbass region. Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said heavy fighting continued near Luhansk and the frontline came under continuous shelling. Of the 1.6 million people who lived in the region before the invasion, “no more than 320,000 people remain”, he said.
►Starbucks is closing its 130 stores in Russia and will no longer have a brand presence there. The company said it would continue to pay its nearly 2,000 Russian employees for six months and help them transition into new jobs.
West promises sophisticated weapons to aid Ukraine’s fight
Western allies have promised sophisticated new weapons to support Ukraine in its resistance to the Russian invasion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday. Denmark will send Harpoon anti-ship missile systems to help Ukraine defend its Black Sea coastline, Austin said. The missiles will pose a significant threat to Russian ships in the event of an attack on the key port city of Odessa or an amphibious landing by Russian forces on the Ukrainian coast, he said.
A total of 20 countries pledged military aid to Ukraine at a meeting of allies on Monday morning, Austin said. Italy, Greece, Norway and Poland have agreed to send artillery guns and ammunition, which have been requested as war rages in eastern Ukraine.
There have been “serious exchanges of artillery fire over the past few weeks,” Austin said.
Countries, big cities and even big companies can set up part of Ukraine to lead post-war reconstruction, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in a video address to global business and political leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum from Davos, Switzerland. Zelenskyy said the world has reached a “turning point” in freedom.
“It’s really the moment when it’s decided whether brute force will rule the world,” he said. “If so, there is no need for further meetings in Davos.”
Zelensky also urged international companies to avoid Russia and locate in Ukraine.
“Set a precedent for your brands not to be associated with war crimes,” Zelensky said through an interpreter.
The first trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes in Ukraine since the invasion ended Monday with Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Siberian, sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder and violation of international laws of war.
Shishimarin, a captured Russian tank unit sergeant, shot 62-year-old civilian Oleksandr Shelipov in the head in late February. Shishimarin had pleaded guilty, but his defense had argued that he was carrying out a direct order which he had initially disobeyed.
Last week, Shishimarin asked for forgiveness from Shelipov’s widow, Kateryna. She said she wanted a life sentence, but also that she would be willing to see Shishimarin sent back to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
During the trial, the three-judge panel heard that Shishimarin had been ordered to kill the man so he could not report them to Ukrainian military authorities. Shishimarin fired his Kalashnikov at the victim through an open car window.
“I was nervous about what was happening. I didn’t want to kill,” Shishimarin said at the hearing in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Judge Serhiy Ahafonov said he did not consider the defendant’s remorse to be sincere.
Negotiations with Turkey over Sweden’s NATO membership will take longer, but a recent phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “good and positive”, Sweden’s prime minister said on Monday. Magdalena Andersson told Sweden’s official TT news agency that she was looking forward to the upcoming negotiations with Ankara. Edrogan took issue with Sweden and Finland, citing their alleged support for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups Turkey considers terrorists. Andersson said Sweden was one of the first countries to classify the PKK as terrorist.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last week – a move prompted by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Unanimous consent of all NATO members is required for new members. Erdogan made few references to Finland amid reports that most of Turkey’s grievances are directed against Sweden, which has a large Kurdish exile community.
In the first three months of its “special military operation”, Russia likely suffered a death toll similar to that recorded by the Soviet Union during its entire nine-year war in Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defense has said. in his latest assessment of the war. in Ukraine. About 15,000 Russians died in the Afghan war that ended in 1989.
“Poor tactics at low altitude, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility and a command approach ready to reinforce repeated failures and mistakes have led to this high casualty rate (in Ukraine), which continues to increase in the Donbass offensive,” the assessment said.
The Russian public has, in the past, “shown sympathy for the losses incurred in wars of choice,” the assessment says. As the death toll rises and the human cost becomes more apparent, public dissatisfaction with the war and the willingness to voice it could grow, he says.
The leader of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine has said nearly 2,500 Azovstal steelworks fighters captured by Russian forces will face an “international court” there. Denis Pushilin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that “at the moment the tribunal’s charter is being drafted”.
Family members of fighters taken prisoner at the mill have pleaded for them to be granted rights as POWs and eventually returned to Ukraine.
Even with the The war in Ukraine is going much worse than expected for Russia, the likelihood of Russian President Vladimir Putin deploying a nuclear weapon is “low but not zero”, the former US Secretary of Defense and CIA director said on Sunday. Robert Gates. Nation with Margaret Brennan,” Gates said, Russia’s use of a tactical weapon would elicit a strong response from the West.
“The other thing that I hope someone around Putin reminds him of is that in this part of the world, and especially in eastern Ukraine, the winds tend to blow from the ‘west,” Gates said. nuclear weapon in eastern Ukraine, the radiation will go to Russia.”
Gates, who served as defense secretary under Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011, said the Biden administration should have started arming Ukraine for conflict with the Russians. months earlier. But he gives President Joe Biden high marks for rallying US allies and bringing together a coalition to confront Russia, resisting calls for a no-fly zone – which would require deeper intervention – and for refusing to bite on Putin’s nuclear threats.
Gates pointed out that Western sanctions and battlefield failures have dealt a severe blow to Russia and its global standing. “Putin will remain an outcast,” Gates said, “He really put Russia behind the eight ball economically, militarily, and because now people are going to look at the Russian military and say, ‘You know, that was supposed to be this fantastic army. Well, they give a good parade, but in real combat, not so hot. ‘”
Biden and Harris on Russia’s banned list, but not Trump
Russia has permanently banned nearly 1,000 Americans from entering the country in response to US support for Ukraine in the war, and the list includes many elected leaders but conspicuously omits one prominent – l former President Donald Trump.
Speaker Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were among the 963 banned by Russia, a largely symbolic gesture.
Recent living former presidents like Barack Obama and George W. Bush were not on the banned list, but Trump’s name stands out because he has often been accused of being too comfortable with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two days before the Feb. 24 invasion, Trump called Putin’s strategy toward Ukraine “genius” and “savant.”